Exonerated man, accuser forge rare bond
Feb 17, 2010
Cage, then 26, was shocked when the police arrested him.
"I'm innocent," he insisted.
That didn't matter. Two years later in 1996, Zilinger's testimony would convict Cage, sending him to prison for 40 years. Zilinger was absolutely sure. Even his voice sounded like her attacker's, she said.
After four appeals and 14 years in prison, Cage won his freedom. A sample of the assailant's saliva, retrieved from the victim's body in 1994, was the proof he needed. A DNA test, which was not available at the time of the trial, was performed on the saliva and excluded him.
Cage was exonerated in May 2008.
....It was Cage's first time in Los Angeles, too. The 43-year-old thought he was doing another interview about his exoneration. He didn't expect to see his accuser there.
His two years of freedom with his family had changed Cage. The resentment he held toward Zilinger had faded. He had goals, like finding a job and raising his 3-year-old granddaughter.
The attacker, who has not been found, had ruined both their lives, he concluded. They were both made victims.
On the show's stage, Zilinger and Cage embraced
"I hope you get the closure, and I hope you can find the person who did this," he said to her.
"Can you help me?" she asked.
"Can we help each other?" Cage responded.